Learning by doing is the most effective way to transfer knowledge. However, Thai teachers are still accustomed to lecturing students though that is the least effective way to enable students to learn. It's time for a change so students can learn more effectively.
Somkiat Vasuvattakul, the assistant to the president for human resources and quality development at Mahidol University, said last week that research showed that out of five methods of passing on knowledge to students, lecturing was the least effective, followed by rule of thumb, storytelling and Socratic questioning. The most effective was learning by doing.
Somkiat was a keynote speaker at the Second Knowledge Management (KM) Fair held last week by the Education Council at the Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok.
According to Wikipedia, KM comprises a range of strategies and practices used in an organisation to identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organisational processes or practice.
Somkiat encouraged teachers to change themselves. They should not use only commands with their students, but share ideas with other teachers then set up activities and do them with their students, he said.
"Teachers should reverse mentor, daring to ask and learn from their own students when doing activities together. Teachers are not persons who know everything," he said.
Teachers should post their good teaching techniques and activities, which are tacit knowledge, to exchange with others on the Internet so that such techniques and activities would be adopted widely and developed to produce better results, he said.
KM can help encourage teachers to share their best practices and implement various teaching techniques and activities from the best practices with their students.
To provide opportunities for teachers to present and exchange their good teaching techniques and activities with other teachers, about 60 KM projects were presented at the educational fair with several hundreds of educational personnel nationwide in attendance.
The Education Council also aimed that the fair would expand the KM network.
"Since the Education Ministry decided to cut 30 per cent of redundant content at the basiceducation level in the second education reform, students will have more time to do activities. We hope that activities with integrated knowledge under the KM system will be able to fulfil their effective learning," said deputy secretarygeneral Sutthasri Wongsaman, who presided over the opening ceremony of the fair.
"Teachers' projects this year focused on creating activities for each subject separately. We target to help teachers to create activities that integrate knowledge of several subjects together. Next year's fair is expected to feature activities with integrated knowledge of different subjects," she said.
So far, 17 educational service area offices and 78 basic education schools have joined the pilot project implementing KM. And each of the 78 is guiding four to six other schools in using KM to expand the network.
Among them, the KM best practice projects of Bankhuanniang School in Songkhla were presented at the fair.
Teacher Somsri Thampapanna said the school had used KM since 2008. Administrators, teachers, school committees and parents usually attended weekly meetings to share their ideas and find the best ones to improve students through activities. They also used the meetings to review how the ideas worked and fix the flaws.
"Management helps the teachers to work more systematically while students' performances and behaviour are better as regular discussions and idea sharing help us find proper ways to deal with students," Somsri said.
The school's student administration system, the teaching of math and Thai musical instruments and the teaching of Thai culture through Buddhism have been recognised as KM best practices.
The students' National Test scores are higher for math and science - higher than 50 per cent of full scores, she said.
The school would set new targets, like finding more activities to teach students integrated knowledge of separate subjects, she said. It's now starting a KM project with integrated activities to reduce global warming along with instilling a volunteer spirit in students by having them manage garbage disposal properly.
"We had meetings to share ideas on how to teach students to deal with the garbage and how to develop a volunteer mind in them, and had many other meetings to adjust the methods until the students did better," she said.
Sauwalak Moungngam, a Thai language teacher from Thonsamo Temple School in Sing Buri, has just begun using KM with the subject she teaches. She has exchanged teaching techniques with 51 other teachers from different schools and adopted the good ones.
She's waiting to calculate the Thai language score from these schools' students on the Ordinary National Test to see if KM can help raise their results.
"Participating in this fair, I got interesting ideas on how other teachers use KM to provide student learning activities," she said.